One of the first stressors I felt as a working daughter was helping my mother manage her 14 different medications. For a long time she managed her own medication, sorting her pills into one of those plastic pill organizers she bought at CVS. Over time, managing her own medication became overwhelming and she wanted help. On the weekends I could visit her, I would set her up for the coming week. But because she lived more than an hour away, and I worked full time, and I had two young children, weekly visits weren’t guaranteed. Eventually, I hired and paid for a nurse to visit my mother twice a month, just to sort her pills. Peace of mind came with a high price tag.
When my father moved into assisted living, I learned about bubble packs. The facility used a pharmacy that packed residents’s medication in 7-day cards, organized by when the pills were taken, and shipped monthly. For example Monday a.m. pills were all together in one foil-backed packet, as were Monday afternoon, etc. While mostly convenient and designed to eliminate mistakes, these bubble packs had some disadvantages. The pharmacy would not add over the counter pills and when a dose changed, the entire month’s supply had to be repacked. My father was on a blood thinner and depending on his INR reading (international normalized ratio that measure the time it takes blood to clot) his dosage could change week to week.
A company called PillPack offers a residential service similar to what the assisted living pharmacy offered – and they include over-the-counter meds. I know many working daughters who love this service because they know their parent’s medication is being delivered to them and there is no sorting required. Also, if their parent travels, it’s easy to pack the emdication they will need.
Daughters, nurses and bubble packs are all viable medication managers, each with their own pros and cons. But what these options don’t do, is provide any insight into how well your parents are adhering to their medication schedule. A product called Hero does. Disclosure: Hero sent me a product to try and I may receive a commission if you make a purchase.
Hero stores, sorts, and dispenses a month’s supply of 10 different medications – no matter the shape or size of the pills. And I love it! Here’s why:
– It’s really easy to set up. First you go to Hero’s website and list the medications, dosages, and times you take them. Then the onscscreen display guides you through filling the device with your pills. Set up takes less than 30 minutes and you are done for the month!
– Hero beeps and lights up when it is time for you to take your medication. You can set the volume and brightness.
– When it’s time to take a dose, Hero reminds you what pills you are taking. For those of us who are not inclined to trust a machine, this step provides reassurance. This is also the time Hero alerts you if you are running low on any pills.
– Pills pour out into a little plastic cup. If you’re forgetful like me, don’t worry – Hero reminds you to return the cup for the next dose.
– If your parent is late taking a dose, Hero will text you. You can then call and check in to make sure all is okay. And if you are so inclined, using the Hero app, you can track compliance.
– You can opt in to the Hero Fill service to have prescriptions, and over the counter medications shipped, making trips to the pharmacy a thing of the past.
– My Hero tucks into my kitchen counter under a cabinet. The off white design blends in nicely to my backsplash. No more ugly bottles cluttering up my house!
In my opinion, Hero is best for parents who are comfortable with technology and/or for caregivers who live close enough to set the product up for their parents. While my Hero has never malfunctioned, I know some of my older relatives would need reassurance that it was working properly. A quick visit would alleviate any concerns.
Hero offers a membership which includes a $99.99 initiation fee and a $29.99 monthly subscription. Learn more at herohealth.com.